Co-op advertising is a cost-sharing arrangement between a manufacturer and a retailer for customers' advertising programs. Collectively, manufacturers earmark approximately $30 billion annually to help businesses stretch their advertising dollars. Yet, according to the Yellow Pages Publishers Association (YPPA), much of the money goes unused. Whether you're a full-time retailer or own a service business with a retail center, you should consider co-op opportunities. Co-op opportunities are available in every medium, from yellow-page listings to print ads to radio and TV spots. Here's one small business's success story.

The doors to Planet Hair opened in Wichita, Kans., with six stations, four stylists, and very little money for advertising. Seven years later, the commission salon now sports eight stations, nine stylists, two massage therapists, and three receptionists. Although co-owners Tod Ernst and Graham Ross and salon coordinator Linda Ernst admit that word-of-mouth referrals have contributed greatly to the salon's success, using cooperative (co-op) advertising dollars has allowed them to simultaneously reach more people and funnel the profits into growth activities.

Planet Hair sells Aveda's product line and joined the co-op program four years ago. The salon has used Aveda's co-op dollars for ads on movie theater screens and in two area phone books and a local magazine. The subsequent increase in revenues has allowed the co-owners to expand and remodel the salon.

For more information about co-op opportunities, check out the YPPA Web site or call YPPA at 800-841-0639. You can also refer to a copy of the Co-Op Source Directory (National Register Publishing; 800-521-8110) at the library. Or you can contact other vendors and manufacturers directly and ask if they'd be willing to sponsor a program with you.

Copyright © 2000 Kimberly Stansell. All Rights Reserved.